All Kidding Aside


All jokes are inside jokes.

Just that some circles are bigger than others.

Comedy is always contextual.

If you understand the joke, it is due to context.

In fact I would go so far as to say that a joke is only funny, due to its context.

A joke in Germany is merely an anecdote in Italy.

A joke in my circle of friends, is meaningless to your circle of friends.

Comedy; like language and culture, is shared norms and meaning within a group of people.

If anything, comedy is often used as a means to bring to light what is wrong within a group. What is questionable, detestable and discomforting in the meaning that is shared.

Humor does this by exaggerating that which is obvious, and saying that which nobody is willing to admit.

The concerns that plague a group of people who share meaning, are often reflected in it’s comedy.

Hence we can use a group’s comedy as an indicator of the meaning that this group shares.

Any group.

A group of friends.

A country.

A company.

Through humor we can learn much about them.

Hang by culture’s metaphorical water coolers, listen to the comedy and you will learn much about your culture. And by extension, yourself.

And if you wish to change the culture of your company, don’t ask people what it is they would change in management.

Listen to what it is they choose to laugh about.

Picture courtesy: nerdwriter1: Louis CK Is A Moral Detective


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